What is the world's oldest international airline operating under its original name?

KLM celebrated its 100th anniversary on October 7, 2019, which means that it is officially the world's oldest international airline still operating under its original name.

KLM. Photo: KLM
KLM. Photo: KLM

KLM's fleet

In 1975, there were 56 aircraft, compared to 168 today. Its latest addition, the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, landed at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport in June 2019.

In 1975, the Douglas DC-10 could accommodate 269 passengers. The plane was 55.5 meters long, weighed 240,000 kilograms at takeoff and had a maximum range of 10,600 kilometers.

The new Boeing 787-10 has 344 seats, measures 68.3 meters, weighs 254,100 kilograms at takeoff and has a maximum range of 12,000 kilometers.

In KLM's early years, the company did not have a defined brand spirit, so some variations of the "Finch" logo reached the public. Photo: KLM
In KLM's early years, the company did not have a defined brand spirit, so some variations of the "Finch" logo reached the public. Photo: KLM

Engines

Much has changed in relation to engines since the 1980s. A wide range of technological innovations have provided more reliable, more economical and quieter engines.

The fuel supply system of this international airline, for example, was transformed from a complex hydromechanical process into a system that is increasingly controlled digitally. With the arrival of the Boeing 777 and its GE-90 engines, a leap was made towards the use of composite materials, ensuring weight and noise reduction, combined with increased profitability and reliability.

In recent years, technological and digital innovations have been seen in rapid succession. A great example is the engine control from the cab of the Boeing 787, which is now done via an electronic system, whereas previously a complex series of cables were used.

The new system is not only more reliable, it is also lighter and therefore more environmentally friendly. Systems of this type can reduce the weight of a single aircraft by hundreds or even thousands of kilograms.

KLM's design department created this special logo to mark this occasion. It is visible all over the world, as there are KLM 100 decals on most of your aircraft. Photo: KLM
KLM's design department created this special logo to mark this occasion. It is visible all over the world, as there are KLM 100 decals on most of your aircraft. Photo: KLM

Robots

They are also increasingly using robots for complex but standardized tasks, such as measuring turbine discs and verifying and applying coatings. The robots ensure that this process can continue day and night, with almost 100% accuracy. So, similar levels of accuracy are achieved with virtual reality goggles, which provide a near-perfect, three-dimensional simulation of the circumstances inside an airplane, engine, or component. This is incredibly useful when it comes to training!

This international airline also uses 3-D printers to create maintenance support elements such as clamps, screws, covers and brackets. These items are designed three-dimensionally, after which they are printed using their own recycled material (as of October 7, 2019).

This so-called filament, which is basically the ink of the 3D printer, is made from PET plastic waste generated during their flights. That means that it is not only a highly sustainable innovation, but also reduces costs and increases process efficiency.

"The fact that we are celebrating our centenary is not only a testament to a century of success and innovation, it is also proof of the trust that customers and partners have in KLM," said Pieter Elbers, President and CEO of KLM. Photo: KLM
"The fact that we are celebrating our centenary is not only a testament to a century of success and innovation, it is also proof of the trust that customers and partners have in KLM," said Pieter Elbers, President and CEO of KLM. Photo: KLM

Source: KLM

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